Forward proxy vs Reverse Proxy

Despite their shared name and common purpose of protecting devices connected to a private network against threats from the internet and other external networks, they have different use cases. Let's discuss that briefly in this article.


Image credits: Microsoft

Forward proxy:

A forward proxy accepts connections from computers on a private network and forwards those requests to the public internet. It is the single point of exit for subnet users who want to access resources outside their private network.

Use cases:

  • Masking the IP and location to gain access to location-restricted services

  • For isolated internal networks that need to connect to specific resources on the internet

  • For caching requests to specific servers for content that rarely changes in order to save resources

Reverse Proxy

As the name implies, a reverse proxy does the opposite of what a forward proxy does. A reverse proxy is a server that sits in front of web servers and forwards client requests to those web servers.

Use cases:

  • Load balancing: distribute the load to several web servers,

  • Cache static content: offload the web servers by caching static content like pictures,

  • Compression: compress and optimize content to speed up load time.

  • Logging: Log how many requests of each service are coming to us.

  • Partial rollout: Rollout a new feature to only a certain percentage of users.